Saturday, 2 February 2008

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Bliss

Erika Kinetz for The New York Times

New York Times

February 3, 2008

To thrive in the tropics you need cotton.

This is the delight of the Bliss boutique: fabric. Not only does Bliss have clothes you can actually wear in the middle of the day — cascading petal-weight skirts, slouchy linen trousers, cool pink gingham blouses — it is piled high with stunning cottons, silks and linens from across Asia. These are sewn into clothes, pillows, quilts and cute little bags you can bring home to your friends.

Cassandra McMillan, 37, opened Bliss in 1996. Today, the shop, which added a spa four years ago, is at the heart of Phnom Penh’s growing expatriate life on Street 240, where you can also find a new chocolate shop, a wine store and a bar run by two former New Yorkers.

Bliss is a fine, neo-colonial sort of place, housed in a century-old villa that used to belong to a Chinese-Khmer merchant. Today, it has an admirably worn wooden staircase, small tile elephants, rose petals strewn languidly about and a plunge pool surrounded by frangipani trees.

The Bliss spa also gives what just could be the best bikini wax in town — an important consideration for those long afternoons by the pool, coconut in hand — thanks in large part to the quality of the wax, which, like Ms. McMillan herself, comes from Australia.

Ms. McMillan, whose mother is a professional quilter, likes to blend. There are chartreuse paisleys from Australia; ravishing Indian bridal quilts hand-stitched from antique saris; silvery silks from Cambodia, Korea and China; and bright geometric floral prints from Japan.

“A lot of these are one-offs,” she said. “Once it’s gone, that’s it.”

The prices, cited in dollars as is common in Cambodia, are fairly ridiculous by the country’s standards — some of those fat pillows cost $72, more than many garment factory workers make in a month — but this is all part of the grand, gin-fueled illusion of expatriate life.

One must also pay to escape the tyranny of Asian sizes. Go to a Cambodian dress shop and try to tug those Size 4 zippers over your ribs and you’ll be told: “But sorry, ma’am, it’s a big size already.” Go to Bliss and you’ll be right back home again, mercifully, in a size small. That’s worth at least one gin and tonic, isn’t it?

Bliss, 29 Street 240, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; (855-23) 215-754

Film looks at personal side of Khmer Rouge genocide

by Paul Clark
February 2, 2008

ASHEVILLE — A documentary coming to Asheville highlights the effects that the Khmer Rouge genocide had on the filmmaker’s family.

Socheata Poeuv, believed to be the first Cambodian-American woman to film a feature-length documentary, will screen her film at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Fine Arts Theatre.

Part of the Southern Arts Federation’s Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, the documentary “New Year Baby” is $5 but free to students from UNC Asheville and Western Carolina University. After the film, Poeuv will engage the audience in a discussion about the film and her work as a filmmaker.

Poeuv was born in a Thai refugee camp on Cambodian New Year and raised in Dallas with limited knowledge of the circumstances that brought her family to the United States. When she turned 25, her parents told her that her two sisters are really her cousins and her brother is only her half brother.

Each member of the family is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, smuggled to Thailand by Poeuv’s father before the family immigrated to the United States. Learning this raised more questions for Poeuv than it answered.

In “New Year Baby,” her debut documentary, Poeuv and her brother travel with their parents to Cambodia to reconnect with their past and to discover and document the family’s legacy of survival.

Poeuv’s film is a combination documentary and travel diary that sheds light on one of the darkest chapters in the history of human rights and the life of her family.

“New Year Baby” received Amnesty International Movies That Matter Award at its 2006 premiere and earned international acclaim as the Best Documentary Award at both the AFI Dallas International Film Festival and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a program of the not-for-profit regional arts organization Southern Arts Federation, is brought to Asheville by the Media Arts Project.

Delay sought for KRouge leader's first public court hearing

Cambodian and international judges and officials of Extraordinary Chambers are seen in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) opening the 3rd Plenary session in Phnom Penh, on January 28. Attorneys for Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea said Saturday that they want to delay his first public appearance before the genocide tribunal because of a dispute over a foreign lawyer on his team.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Sat Feb 2,

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Attorneys for Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea said Saturday that they want to delay his first public appearance before the genocide tribunal because of a dispute over a foreign lawyer on his team.

The conflict arose after Cambodia's Bar Association last week refused to admit a member of Nuon Chea's defense team, Dutch attorney Victor Koppe.

Nuon Chea, the 81 year-old former regime ideologue charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, had been expected to appeal his pre-trial detention on Monday.

But one of his lawyers, Cambodian Sun Arun, said he would seek a postponement Monday.

"I cannot do it alone and win," he told AFP. "It is not possible to proceed with the hearing without foreign lawyers."

Bar officials said Koppe signed had court documents before they swore him in, violating the rule that foreign lawyers wishing to represent tribunal defendants must be accepted by the Bar before conducting court business.

Koppe had petitioned for the removal of pre-trial chamber judge Ney Thol, whom he accused of being "neither independent nor impartial."

Ney Thol serves as president of Cambodia's military court and is a member of the ruling Cambodian People's Party central committee.

Tribunal officials said earlier that the Bar Association's decision would not affect the hearing.

But the threat of delay has renewed concerns over the sluggishness of the UN-backed court, which convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of often stalled talks between Cambodia and the world body.

The first arrests were made only last year.

All five of the former regime leaders currently in custody are elderly and ill, heightening fears that they could die before being tried for crimes committed during their 1975-79 communist regime.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed by the Khmer Rouge, which dismantled modern Cambodian society in its bid to forge a radical agrarian utopia.

Cities were emptied and their populations exiled onto vast collective farms, while schools were closed, religion banned and the educated classes targeted for extermination.

Tribunal: More Former Rebels on Docket

By Sok Khemara,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
01 February 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

Khmer Rouge tribunal prosecutors said Friday they hope to arrest more leaders of the regime, but experts say the next round of arrests has been hampered because former leaders hold government positions.

Two separate sources told VOA Khmer the next arrests could include another five people.

The next round would likely include top regional military commanders, some of whom now hold posts as local governors or government aides, officials said.

“We are continuing our preliminary investigation. I am confident that more people will be identified,” tribunal prosecutor Robert Petit said.

Petit stressed that the investigation is a complex matter, factually and legally, but declined to make comment further.

Some senior former Khmer Rouge leaders have been folded into the government, in positions as governor, military commander, district chiefs, and others, making investigation difficult, experts said Friday.

Hisham Mousar, a tribunal expert for the rights group Adhoc, said there are many issues stopping prosecutors from sending a list of names to the investigating judges.

Global Witness Awarded for Investigations

By Brian Calvert,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
01 February 2008

Audio in Khmer - Download

The international monitoring group Global Witness was given a development award in Washington Thursday, for its investigations into resource exploitation in countries like Angola, Burma, Cambodia and Liberia.

Global Witness received the Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award, given each year by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for Global Development.

Global Witness was selected because its founders “managed to change the world in fantastic ways,” Moises Naim, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, said at the awards ceremony.

Global Witness started with three individuals seeking to end the timber trade along the Thai-Cambodia border in the early 1990s, which was funding both the Khmer Rouge and the government as they fought, said Patrick Alley, a founder of the group.

Corrupt Cambodian officials continue to reap benefits from an illegal timber trade, Global Witness says.

In its 2007 report, “Cambodia’s Family Trees,” the group singled out more than a dozen officials with close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen who profit from the trade.

Global Witness is now working with the US government to have those officials added to a State Department ban from US entry, said Global Witness founding director Simon Taylor.

UN Expects Enough Funds for Tribunal

By Sok Khemara,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
01 February 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

UN officials said Friday they would be able to garner enough money from member nations to keep the cash-strapped Khmer Rouge tribunal afloat.

The hybrid tribunal, whose cost is expected to rise beyond the original $56-million price tag, has indicted five former leaders of the regime, but proceedings may take longer than expected, leaving observers worried the money will dry up.

The tribunal needs another $45 million to keep going, experts say.

“We are seeking funds, and we believe that there will be sufficient funds,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the courts were stretching the money as much as possible, but he was pleased to hear efforts were being made to find more.

The US and others say they won’t fund a tribunal that does not meet international standards of justice and transparency.

Cambodian-American Relationship Notably Improved

Posted on 2 February 2008.

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 545

Federal Bureau of Investigation opens its Legal Attaché office in Cambodia
“Phnom Penh: The Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], which is a main part of the United States of America government, officially inaugurated its Legal Attaché office in the afternoon of 31 January, after a warm welcome by high ranking officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

“Mr. Robert S. Mueller, the FBI director, together with Mr. Joseph A. Mussomeli, the US ambassador to Cambodia, jointly symbolically pressed abutton to inaugurate an FBI office in Cambodia, which is located in the US embassy.

“Mr. Robert S. Mueller told the press that ‘Cambodia is an important country to have an FBI representative office.’

“He stated that the office has two staff members, including Mr. Laro Tan (a Cambodian-American), as the head of the office in Cambodia.

“The FBI director, who is paying a two day visit to Cambodia, added that the reason why they just open this office here is because in the past, the US had not owned a suitable building, but right now, the US has an embassy which is firmly established in Cambodia. He claimed that ‘the relationship between the FBI and Cambodia will be improved after opening this office right here.’ He added that ‘the FBI will strengthen the relations and the cooperation with the government [of Cambodia], exchanging information to jointly fight against terrorism.’

“The FBI office was inaugurated after Mr. Robert S. Mueller had met with many high ranking government officials. In the morning of 31 January, he met with Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen at his Takhmao villa in Kandal.

“Mr. Eang Sophalet, a personal assistant to Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, said that Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that the relationship between Cambodia and the US right now is progressing well. Samdech Dekchor continued that the US has helped Cambodia by providing many kinds of assistance, such as humanitarian, to combat against terrorism, and against money laundering and human trafficking.

“Samdech Dekchor requested the US to continue to help further in these sectors.

“Mr. Robert S. Mueller thanked the Cambodian government, especially Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, for allowing the US to operate the FBI Legal Attaché office in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Moreover, he noted that, so far, Cambodia has provided very good cooperation in the fight against terrorism, money laundering, and human trafficking etc.

“Mr. Robert stated that the US will continue to cooperate with Cambodia in the fight against terrorism, money laundering, and human trafficking.

“In the morning of 31 January, Mr. Robert S. Mueller separately met with officials from the National Committee on Counter-Terrorism.

“Mr. Om Yentieng, an advisor to Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and vice chairperson of the secretariat of the National Committee on Counter-Terrorism, who represented the Cambodia side, welcomed and highly appreciated the visit of the US delegation by saying, ‘This is a very important and busy trip, but it is an expression of friendly relations and intense cooperation; and it is also a visit that can bring a new step in strengthening and deepening the very good and friendly relations towards cooperation in the future.’

“Mr. Om Yentieng said that the National Committee on Counter-Terrorism is smaller than the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces of the US. However, our National Committee on Counter-Terrorism is based on three principles: first, that national and international forces cooperate right here; second, it is a center to exchange all information on espionage between all national and international intelligence institutions; and third, this national body fulfils its role as a center to coordinate all national forces fighting against terrorism.

“Mr. Robert S. Mueller thanked for the warm welcome and for the hospitality from the Cambodia side, and he said that just shortly before this, he met with Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, then with Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, the minister of interior, and particularly right now he discusses with the National Committee on Counter-Terrorism, where several sectors, including police, military police, as well as other military and civilian officials, are represented.

“Mr. Robert said during the meeting, ‘The friendly relations and the cooperation between Cambodia and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation have a firm basis,’ and he stated that he ‘hopes and believes that, in future, we will strengthen and extend the relations and the cooperation further.’

“Mr. Robert S. Mueller stated that he will provide assistance to Cambodia, especially for the training of Cambodian law enforcement officials, and also give equipment and materials for combating terrorism and other crimes, including cross border crimes, and human and drug trafficking.

“At the same time Mr. Robert S. Mueller showed his intention to help Cambodia combating another new type of crime, which is computer crime. This relates to the crime of virus programming to destroy computer systems; for this kind of crime laws exist in the USA. Even though in Cambodia such a law still does not exist, he stated that he will provide training to combat this kind of crime.

“Mr. Robert S. Mueller expressed enthusiasm and highly appreciated that Cambodia has permitted the opening of the Legal Attaché office, which is also called the FBI representative office in Cambodia, located in the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, headed by Mr. Laro Tan, the FBI office chief, who came here for the first time to work. It is important that Mr. Laro Tan has a Cambodian background, which can help to facilitate to have more progress in the relationship between Cambodia and America.

“According to a source from the US Embassy in Cambodia, Mr. Robert S. Mueller’s visit here is part of his trip to two other countries, China and Vietnam.

“It is noted that Mr. Robert arrived in Cambodia on 30 January.

“Mr. Robert S. Mueller became the sixth director of the FBI on 4 September 2001. Before working in the FBI, Mr. Mueller had many different experiences: as a lawyer, and he also was US Deputy Attorney General as well. He graduated from Princeton University in 1966 and has a Master Degree in International Relation from New York University in 1967, and he received [after having served in the military] a law degree from the Faculty of Law of the University of Virginia in 1973.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4504, 01.02.2008

World revs up for Lunar New Year


From lion dances to parades to markets, communities far and wide are celebrating the Lunar New Year

By Andy Goldberg, Bronwyn Sloan, Fiona Smith, Dewi Kurniawati
Saturday, Feb 02, 2008,

Ho Chin Seng watches carefully as his Cambodian lion dancers, or mong sy, go through their paces at Tuen Fah Chinese School and Temple in the Cambodian capital.

"We are booked to dance for Sok Kong in a few days," he says, referring to Cambodia's leading petroleum tycoon. Seng's troupe is also a favorite with Senate President Chea Sim and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Seng, of Chinese-Malaysian descent is in his early 40s and has been in Cambodia for a decade teaching lion dancing and other cultural arts.

Cambodia comes to a virtual halt during the Lunar New Year festival. Although it is not an official government holiday, Chinese roots run deep here and bosses are rarely angry when staff go to perform traditional New Year tasks - in fact, they usually do so too.

"Cambodia and China are strong allies, but also, most Cambodians have Chinese relatives or at least have a Chinese connection," says government spokesman Khieu Kanharith.

Although Cambodia will celebrate its own New Year in April, its zodiac mirrors the Chinese zodiac. Last year, the auspicious Year of the Golden Pig, Cambodian hospitals reported a significant increase in pregnancies and births.

Vietnamese gamble on Cambodian town Border town casinos show gap between Vietnam's rich and poor since economic reforms

Makoto Ota Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent

The crowds of Vietnamese trying their luck at the casinos that have sprung up in the southeastern border town of Bavet are a tangible example of the widening social divisions in their home country.

While some of the people crossing the border for the casinos in Cambodia (gambling is illegal in Vietnam) are betting millions of dollars, others stay there for the free food-- a mixture of haves and have-nots that has become more evident since Vietnam introduced its "doi moi" policies of economic liberalization in the 1980s.

Seven years ago, Bavet, an hour by car from Ho Chi Minh City, was surrounded by rice paddies. But it now has seven casinos, and is illuminated round-the-clock by neon lights.

A man from Ho Chi Minh City, identifying himself as Quon, was playing baccarat at a table lit by chandeliers.

"I never keep track of how much I bet," he said as he placed another 500 dollars bet after having just lost 500 dollars. "Probably several thousand dollars a day," the 45-year-old Quon said.

More than 90 percent of the 7,000 visitors the casinos receive each day are Vietnamese. Food and drink is free, while complimentary accommodation is available next door for those placing a certain amount in bets.

The average monthly income in Vietnam is about 150 dollars, though some of the guests clearly earn far more than this. The 32-year-old Vietnamese assistant manager of the Le Macau casino, the oldest casino in the area, said: "Betting tens of thousands of dollars is nothing special here. I know one customer who spent 2 million dollars."

The casinos have benefited from the money flowing out of Ho Chi Minh City.

"I made a fortune thanks to my connections with the [Vietnamese] government," one patron said. "I bought some real estate after obtaining some useful information and sold it on. With the surging property market, I knew I'd make money."

As there is no private land ownership in Vietnam, trade in land-use rights is roaring, creating a housing bubble in the country.

The assessed value of the land per square meter in front of the Ben Thanh Market, in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, was 200,000 dollars, or 21.7 million yen, in 2006--more than the 19 million yen the same-sized piece of land would cost in Tokyo's ritzy Ginza 2-chome.

But while some Vietnamese have benefited from the emerging market economy, many have been left behind, and have even abandoned their hometowns altogether for Bavet.

A 50-year-old man identifying himself as Tieng came to Bavet with his wife from the southern province of Tay Ninh in Vietnam eight months ago. Tieng said that back home he worked irregularly as a day-laborer, earning about 37 dollars in a good month.

But he said that he now earns enough to make a reasonable living through gambling, having three meals a day at the casinos and sleeping on a sofa.

"I can earn 10 dollars a day," Tieng said. "Everything I earn is profit, because we don't need to pay for food."

Tieng said about 20 Vietnamese have left their hometown because of poverty and settled in the casinos, adding the number of "settlers" has been growing as rumors of easy money spread.

Income disparities in Vietnam have been widening steadily under the doi moi policy. According to statistics from the United Nations, 29.9 percent of the gross national income is held by rich people, who account for just 10 percent of the population.

The figure is comparable to that in China, a country facing its own problems with inequality, where about 33 percent of the country's wealth is held by the rich.

Vietnam: Former Khmer Rouge leader demands bail release

From: Mathaba

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Khmer Rouge regim, Ieng Sary, who is currently imprisoned for charges of war crimes and crime against humanity, continues to call for bail release, claiming his bad health conditions.

Phnom Penh (VNA) – Local media on January 31 cited Ieng Sary’s lawyer Ang Udom as saying that his client should be placed under house arrest because of his illness.

The appeal that requests that Ieng Sary be released on bail has already been submitted to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC).

According to the lawyer, Ieng Sary suffered from heart problem on January 28 and was sent to hospital afterwards. Doctors had said that Ieng Sary’s heart problem had been aggravated.

Lawyer Ang Udom said that it would be good if his client could remain alive to calify to the tribunal about the truth on the Khmer Rouge genocide.

Meanwhile, ECCC spokesman Reach Sambath said only the five judges of the ECCC can decide on whether Ieng Sary will receive bail release or not.

Ieng Sary, 82, was arrested in Phnom Penh in November and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ECCC.

Play helps uneducated in Cambodia

Photo by Marci StenbergMerced Sun-Star
Tiffany Alcocer, center, with the help of Marc Olds, practices for the play "Folktales for Fun" at Elmer Wood Elementary School in Atwater last week. Watching Alcocer are Molly Williams, left, and Caydee Espinoza.

Friday, Feb. 01, 2008

ATWATER -- Kids don't usually clamor to go to school. But what if that option was taken away? What if parents had to pay for school -- but didn't have the money?

These questions gave Elmer Wood Elementary School actors and actresses food for thought when their teacher taught them about Cambodian orphans.

Fifth- and sixth-grade theater teacher Kathy Woodman shared stories with her students about her mother-in-law, Joyce, a pastor who travels to Cambodia to make sure charity money goes to places it is promised.

The small Southeast Asian country, between Thailand and Vietnam, hosts many poor residents. It is still recovering from war and genocide in the late 1970s that flat-lined the nation's economy, made even worse by ongoing government corruption.

Some parents are so poor that they've had to give up their children. Others can't afford medical treatment for various illness -- also leaving their children parentless.

In Cambodia, classroom costs and supplies must be supplemented by the parents. But what about the children in orphanages? The Atwater fifth- and sixth-graders were disturbed to hear that children their own age in other countries can't afford to attend school.

They wanted to help in a way they knew how -- through the arts. The 21 elementary school thespians were already working on the school's annual play. And, coincidentally, it featured an international theme. The play "Folktales for Fun" is a collection of folktales from around the world.

The school has traditionally offered one performance a year, with proceeds going to fund theater programs. This will happen again with a matinee performance Saturday of "Folktales for Fun."
But the theater teacher and her students are making a special addition this year -- an extra performance at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Buhach Colony High School Theater. And proceeds from this show will go to orphans in the northern region of Cambodia.

"I would hope they would do the same for us, too," said Hannah Betancourt, 11, a sixth-grader who plays a squirrel in the production.

Funds will be sent to the charity, Warm Blankets Orphan Care International. And Woodman's mother-in-law plans to travel to Cambodia in March to make sure the orphans got that money.

While sports, video games and other fun-time activities often sound more appealing than a classroom, the thought of a life without school struck the Atwater students as "sad."

Sixth-grader Randy Carrothers, 12, said he got involved with the play to get over stage fright and participate in a new, fun activity. But he also likes the idea of helping other kids out.

Performing gives these students an outlet for expression that they might not get otherwise in the classroom, said third-grade teacher Heather Arnold, who is assisting the production. And the subject matter and purpose of the play open their eyes to world issues.

Clad in bright costumes or their everyday clothes, the students moved and sang during a Friday rehearsal of a Mexican dance. They've worked on the performances for about three months.

The occasional dance and song were used as transitions between each of the six folktales. The stories held such messages as "do good deeds without expecting rewards" and "the elderly shouldn't be disregarded."

Tiffani Alcocer, 12, portrayed her character in the folktale "The Snake," dressed as, well, a snake. Her long, green costume cascaded from her head as she engaged in scripted conversation with the farmer character. In this scene, she described how she would bite the farmer, although he was about to help her out of a jam.

Will this good deed lead to a bitter end? Find out.

And the audience can do its own good deed by supporting children in the arts and education in developing countries.

Holidaymakers Go Deeper Underground in Cambodia

Travel Industry News
posted on 01/02/2008

Hollidaymakers are going deeper underground in Cambodia as one of the nation's biggest tourist attractions draws them in.

A one-time hideaway for the Viet Cong guerrillas during the Vietnam conflict, the Cu Chi tunnels form a network of underground walkways – three storeys deep in some parts – that is proving popular with backpackers.

For just a dollar tourists can have a go at firing an AK-47 or an ageing US-made M16.

Around the tunnels, souvenir stalls have cropped up to cater for the "war-tourist" selling pens made from bullets and "authentic" wartime Zippo lighters engraved with GI motto.

However, visitors are warned that some of this memorabilia is less than authentic.

Tour guides dressed as guerrillas are also on hand to add to the experience, taking visitors through the labyrinth of tunnels which span over 200 kilometres and once connected villages and underground communities to northern Saigon.

According to the Lonely Planet Guide, Cambodia has a "vibrant culture", charming people and "jaw dropping" sights.

Cambodian leaders meet with Chinese FM

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Friday separately met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on bilateral ties and cooperation.

Sihamoni reviewed the friendly cooperation and relations between the two countries, praised the achievements that China has scored, appreciated the help that China has extended to Cambodia and stressed the kingdom's adherence to the One-China Policy.

Yang told the king that China will deepen its friendly ties and cooperation with Cambodia in various fields and expressed his appreciation for the contributions that the royal family has done for the bilateral ties.

Hun Sen said that the bilateral cooperation between China and Cambodia has born rich fruits, China's support has helped Cambodia improve its capability of independent development and the development of China is providing golden opportunities for the region.

Yang told the prime minister that the relations between China and Cambodia are stepping into a new era after years of exchange and cooperation. China highly appreciated Cambodia's adherence to the One-China Policy and expects to push the overall cooperative partnership between China and Cambodia to a higher level.

Meanwhile, Hor Namhong and Yang during their meeting reached four consensus to upgrade the bilateral ties and cooperation, namely maintenance of high-level exchanges and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between both countries; expansion of economic and trade cooperation; improvement of exchange and cooperation in the fields of diplomacy, culture, sports, health and tourism; more coordination in regional and global issues.

Yang arrived in the capital of Combodia on Thursday afternoon for a three-day official visit at the invitation of Hor Namhong.

This has been Yang's first visit to Cambodia since he became foreign minister in 2007.

Cambodia is the first stop of Yang's regional tour, which also includes Brunei and Australia.

Source: By Government of China

Chinese Pledge $55 Million for Roads

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 February 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

China and Cambodia signed a $55-million agreement Thursday to improve the national roads in the northeast.

The money was pledged at a signing ceremony during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. China has been expanding its aid in the region and gave $600 million in aid to Cambodia in 2007.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said following a signing ceremony the money would be used to connect Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces.

“In previous years, China lent us $300 million with a low interest rate for infrastructure construction,” Hor Namhong said. “With that $300 million, we have had two bridges and four national roads constructed.”

Yang Jiechi said through an interpreter the two countries had also agreed to promote friendly relations and bilateral cooperation.

“We highly appreciate that Cambodia upholds the one-China policy, opposing any such claim as Taiwan’s independence,” he said.

Hor Namhong reiterated the Cambodia position: “Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China that cannot be separated, no matter what tactics they use.”

Taiwanese bids for independence could destabilize the region, Hor Namhong said.

Conditions ‘Not Good’ in 2007, Unions Report

By Mean Veasna,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 February 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

The lives of workers in Cambodia’s factories have improved little, despite the country’s improved economic performance, union leaders said Friday.

Workers are subject to abuse and dismissal by management, while their wages remain low. Meanwhile, strikes and demonstrations are often broken with force.

A report by the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union said 104 workers, including union representatives, had been fired in seven factories in 2007.

Forty-two workers from a single factory were laid off in August alone, the union said.

“What we have seen is not that good in 2007. Related to the job, I think we have quite a lot of problems,” said Sam Sreymom, vice president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union. “The price of goods keeps soaring. The rent is also going up, so the income is not enough.”

Om Mean, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Labor, said factories are “not perfect, ...but if we can have more positive [steps], then it is good.”

Cambodian leaders meet with Chinese FM

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (R) shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affair in Phnom Penh February 1, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (L) talks with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affair in Phnom Penh February 1, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (L, front) gestures to bid farewell to Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni (R Front) after their meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb. 1, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni (R) shakes hands with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during their meeting in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Feb. 1, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

Hun Sen said that the bilateral cooperation between China and Cambodia has born rich fruits, China's support has helped Cambodia improve its capability of independent development and the development of China is providing golden opportunities for the region.

Yang told the prime minister that the relations between China and Cambodia are stepping into a new era after years of exchange and cooperation. China highly appreciated Cambodia's adherence to the One-China Policy and expects to push the overall cooperative partnership between China and Cambodia to a higher level.

Meanwhile, Hor Namhong and Yang during their meeting reached four consensus to upgrade the bilateral ties and cooperation, namely maintenance of high-level exchanges and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between both countries; expansion of economic and trade cooperation; improvement of exchange and cooperation in the fields of diplomacy, culture, sports, health and tourism; more coordination in regional and global issues.

Yang arrived here on Thursday afternoon for a three-day official visit at the invitation of Hor Namhong.

This has been Yang's first visit to Cambodia since he became foreign minister in 2007.

Cambodia is the first stop of Yang's regional tour, which also includes Brunei and Australia.

Editor: Lin Li

Cambodia Royalists to vote for parliamentary candidates

From: Mathaba

Cambodian royalist party's candidates for the upcoming National Assembly election will be nominated by vote on January 30.

Phnom Penh (VNA) – Nhiek Bunchhay, General Secretary of the FUNCINPEC party, said on January 30 that the royalist party’s candidates for the upcoming National Assembly election will be nominated by vote instead of being appointed by its president.

The Cambodian Daily reported that the FUNCINPEC party will hold a meeting in Phnom Penh with the participation of representatives nationwide to choose candidates for the general election.Cambodia is scheduled to hold general election on July 27.

Vietnam, Cambodia to upgrade border gate

From: Mathaba

Phnom Penh (VNA) - Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has signed a decision to upgrade border gates in Som Rong in Cambodia ’s Svay Rieng province and My Quy Tay in Viet Nam ’s southern Long An province into international border gates.

A bilateral agreement on the upgrade was signed at a conference on Viet Nam-Cambodia border province development held on January 17 in Ho Chi Minh City.

The move is expected to meet increasing demands for transportation and trade exchanges between the two countries.

Some countries, foreign friends express sympathy, solicitude to China over snow havoc

Chinese President Hu Jintao (C) talks to miners during his inspection to coal fields in central China's Shanxi Province, Jan. 31, 2008. Chinese President Hu Jintao took an inspection tour on Thursday to coal fields in Datong of Shanxi Province and Qinhuangdao Port in Hebei province. (Xinhua Photo)

BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Some countries and foreign friends have sent messages of sympathy and solicitude to China over a rare snow havoc in southern China.

Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk sent a message of sympathy to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and donated 50,000 U.S. dollars in his own name to China's humanitarian relief organizations.

South Korea's embassy in Beijing informed the Chinese Foreign Ministry of its government's decision to provide 100,000 dollars of emergency aid to the Chinese government.

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere also expressed their sympathy and solicitude to China on behalf of their respective governments.

The worst snow in five decades in China has snarled China's central, southern and eastern regions over the past three weeks and caused huge economic losses.

The snow has so far killed 60 people and forced nearly 1.76 million people to relocate. From Jan. 25 to 31, a total of 5.8 million passengers were stranded throughout the railway system and more than 8,000 cargo trains were affected.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Cambodia bars Dutch lawyer from addressing genocide tribunal hearing

The Associated Press
February 1, 2008

A Dutch lawyer for a detained former Khmer Rouge leader will not be allowed to address a U.N.-backed genocide tribunal hearing next week because Cambodia's bar association refused to swear him in, officials said Friday.

The lawyer's association took the action against Victor Koppe, who represents former Khmer Rouge ideologist Nuon Chea, because he breached its rules by acting as his defense counsel before being formally sworn in.

Koppe violated the rules when earlier this week he petitioned the court for the removal of Judge Ney Thol, who sits on the tribunal's pre-trial chamber.

Nuon Chea is scheduled to appear Monday at a hearing on his appeal against his provisional detention by the tribunal, which has charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The charges are related to his alleged role in the Khmer Rouge atrocities that led to the deaths
of some 1.7 million people when the communist movement held power in Cambodia in 1975-79.

Peter Foster, a tribunal spokesman, said the hearing will proceed as planned on Monday, although Sun Arun, another lawyer representing Nuon Chea, said he has already applied for a postponement.

It was unclear whether Koppe would be allowed to represent Nuon Chea at some future point, with the bar association saying it was still considering the matter.

The tribunal has been delayed by many snags, both procedural and political, since Cambodia in 1997 first sought U.N. help to establish it. In 2006 it opened its offices and appointed staff, and only last year did it finally take five former Khmer Rouge leaders into custody pending trial.

In his petition, Koppe had claimed Ney Thol "is neither independent nor impartial" and his judicial record and political background threatened "to undermine the credibility and integrity" of the tribunal.

Ney Thol is a member of the central committee of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party as well as president of the military court.